Here we present a functional-structural plant model that integrates the growth of metamers into a growing, three-dimensional tree structure, and study the effects of different constraints and strategies on tree performance in different canopies. The tree is a three-dimensional system of connected metamers, and growth is defined by the flush probability of metamers. Tree growth was simulated for different canopy light environments. The result suggest that: the constraints result in an exponential, logistic and decay phase; a mono-layered-leaf crown results from self-shading in a closed canopy; a strong apical control results in slender trees like tall stature species; the interaction between weak apical control and light response results in a crown architecture and performance known from short stature species in closed forest; correlated leaf traits explain interspecific differences in growth, survival and adult stature. The model successfully unravels the interaction effects of different constraints and strategies on tree growth in different canopy light environments.